Should you use Uber, Lyft, or Taxis in Spain? [2022]

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For Americans traveling to Spain, one of the first questions we get is "what's the best way to get around".

In the past, in certain cities you had to deal with unscrupulous taxi drivers and negotiating rates. But Uber and Lyft have changed all of that -- at least in many places around the world.

But that's not exactly the case in Spain, mobile ride share apps are banned in certain cities.

In other cities, ride share apps are now available, but their popularity -- and thus availability -- is low. In this article, we look at popular Spanish tourist destinations and the ride situation in each.

Barcelona

In Barcelona, Uber and Lyft are virtually nonexistent.

The city still has these mobile ride share apps banned, and therefore your only option for car transportation is a taxi.

While we would skipping the taxi altogether and taking the subway (which has excellent coverage in the city), if you need to travel by car, you will have to use a taxi.

Taxis can be hailed by a local taxi hailing app. However, we have found that there's rarely a need to use the app, as taxis are widely available.

Barcelona heavily regulates its taxis, so you're extremely unlikely to get scammed by a driver. The meter is used consistently, and pricing is fair.

Madrid

In Madrid, Uber does work but there are very few UberX vehicles available.  We did some experimentation around the city in order to determine how easy it was to get an Uber in different locations.

The first thing you'll notice is that Uber makes you enter your passport information in order to make a request while in Spain.

Our first test was at Madrid's main train station, where there were at least 50 taxis waiting at the time of our arrival.

Opening the Uber app, we found only 2 Uber vehicles in the vicinity, and the minimum wait time for UberX was 9 minutes.

In the city, it's not much better. In the whole of central Madrid, there are less than a dozen UberX vehicles during several times when we performed tests.

The typical wait time was 10 minutes or more. The Uber app allows you to hail a taxi instead, and that's generally faster.

Uber is advertising quite a bit in Madrid and putting a huge amount of money into getting its market share up.

But the availability still makes getting an UberX your second choice. Taxis in Madrid are also very well regulated and fares are consistent.

Ride share apps like Uber and Lyft just haven't made inroads in most large cities of Spain, so your best bet if traveling there is to get a plain old taxi.

Wanna read more on this? Check these out: Madrid–Barajas Airport, Spain: What to pack, what to wear, and when to go [2022] (more); Madrid, Spain: What to pack, what to wear, and when to go [2022] (more); Community of Madrid, Spain: What to pack, what to wear, and when to go [2022] (more).